Monday, August 24, 2015
Putin's vile misuse of the Orthodox Church
Pundits from both America and Europe have recently ascribed religious motivations to the actions of Vladimir Putin. Is Orthodox Christianity to blame for his militant incursions, reactionary policies, or anti-Western rhetoric?
The notion that the Ukrainian crisis has religious causes is both factually wrong and religiously offensive. What’s worse, it is politically foolish, playing directly into Putin’s preferred narrative of a culture war.
Nonetheless, the idea is gaining a foothold among powerful Western politicians. Carl Bildt, the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, recently asserted that Putin’s efforts to destabilize the Ukraine and his “anti-Western and anti-decadent line” have been “building on deeply conservative orthodox ideas.” The irony is that both Mr. Bildt and Mr. Putin, who have opposing political goals, are employing a strikingly similar misrepresentation of Orthodox Christianity—that it is incompatible with the modern West.
Mr. Bildt is not the only global leader to presume the incompatibility of Orthodoxy and modernity. Since the early 1990s, US and European foreign policy has been profoundly shaped by a political thesis first advocated by Harvard professor Samuel Huntington. Huntington argued that both the Slavic-Orthodox and the Islamic “civilizations” were incapable of embracing Western-styled democracy. Their religious and cultural traditions were supposedly too primitive to accept the Enlightenment principles championed in the West. Foreign policy consultants Molly A. McKew and Gregory A. Maniatis have sounded similar notes, recently linking Mr. Putin’s “revitalization” of “orthodox morality” to his “expansionist vision” and repressive domestic policies.
Only the most superficial of analyses can claim that Mr. Putin’s actions are motivated by Orthodox Christian faith. He is, in fact, doing little more than masking his own political objectives behind the veil of a moralizing principle. Mr. Putin’s efforts to criminalize homosexuality or public swearing are a function of his political calculus, not the inevitable legislative outcome of Orthodox Christian faith.
Throughout history in both East and West, political activists have routinely attempted to solidify their bases by demonizing a religious other. Mr. Putin seeks to present himself as a valiant defender of traditional Russian values against a vacuous and immoral West precisely because he believes that linking himself to the cause of a self-made Christianity will authorize him to enact his stated desire to reintegrate the ancestral Eurasian lands of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
This is not Orthodox Christianity, but classic political showmanship. And it’s far from unique to Mr. Putin. Dressing up political ambition in the clothes of traditional values goes back as far as Caesar Augustus—and for good reason. This rhetorical move is often, unfortunately, effective.
Mr. Bildt should know better, and perhaps he does. But a more sophisticated parsing of the religious rhetoric is not useful to him and his neo-conservative American supporters. It would undermine their desire to paint the Ukrainian crisis as an exaggerated clash between East and West, wherein the West is modern and good and the East is dangerously religious and totalitarian.
The “clash of civilizations” viewpoint also relies on flawed assumptions about Orthodox Christian history and doctrine. Over the past decade, scholarship has conclusively demonstrated that the supposed cultural divide between Christian East and Christian West was largely a political invention that reaches back centuries.
From opposing sides, then, both Mr. Bildt and Mr. Putin exaggerate the incompatibility of Orthodoxy and the modern West because it allows them to paint the political unrest in Ukraine as something other than it actually is—a political crisis brought on by the interconnection and fierce competition within the global debt and commodity markets.
The significance of these issues stretch beyond the current crisis in Russia/Ukraine because Orthodoxy is the dominant expression of Christianity in many other global hotspots, including the Balkans and the Middle East. If the economic and political interests of the West in these regions are going to be well served, then we must resist the facile characterizations of the Orthodox world and Orthodox/Western difference. They originate from an outdated and dangerous colonial vision that assumes the rest of the world should be measured according to an imaginary Western European standard. Ironically, though, the foundations of democracy, international trade, and Christianity originate from the very locations that are presented by Mr. Bildt and Mr. Putin as incompatible with the Western world.
Our world—both West and East—offers enough real examples in which religious convictions misguide public policy and foreign affairs. We need not create a new one by believing the rhetoric of Mr. Putin.
source: Putin's Unorthodox Orthodoxy: http://blogs.goarch.org/blog/-/blogs/putin-s-unorthodox-orthodoxy?p_p_auth=IpTqHq5b
Co-authored by Fordham Professors: Aristotle Papanikolaou, Archbishop Demetrios Chair of Orthodox Theology and Culture, and George E. Demacopoulos, Director of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center
I ARISE TODAY IN A HYMN OF PRAISE TO THE LORD OF CREATION IN ALL HOLY Blessing and brightness, Wisdom, thanksgiving, Great power and might T...
Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel + In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Most glorious Prince ...
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us. Father all powerful, Have mercy on us. Jesus,...
Terse Open our hearts, O Lord and enlighten us by the grace of the Holy Spirit that we may seek what is pleasing to your will and so order...
The Modern Papacy - an invention, Leo IX, the Schism that wasn't, Sedevacantism and its twin Recognize and Resist, 2 Esdras and its Jew False Messiah, the Antichrist announced by the False ProphetTimeline of the Schism that wasn't and the beginning of the Cardinalate that had never been. The Modern Papacy - an invention. In the...
5:38 We Three Kings of Orient Are (Sacred Rendition)
Traditional Catholic Prayers: The Mark, the Name, the Number of the beast and the Tower of Babel = Ecumenism: Parousia of Jesus Christ Our Lord: Jews called in Christ: Original Prophecies of the Messiah changed by the Jews after Christ cameTraditional Catholic Prayers: The Mark, the Name, the Number of the beast and the Tower of Babel = Ecumenism: Parousia of Jesus Christ Our ...
It was the ancient Gnostic heretics which were the chief coming of Antichrist fakirs that the Early Church Fathers warned against and fore...
Vladimir Borovikovsky - Nativity of Christ (19th Century) The little child Jesus is already here The Kings and the shepherds adore without ...
Christ will return, first: the Coming of Antichrist
The Parousia of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - The Nuzul i Isa (descent from heaven) of 'Isa al-Maseeh and Qiyamah, judgment of all men, at the Resurrection.